Ross School - Senior Project 2008-09

Student: William Taylor Wilson

Mentor: Thomas Liao

Title: The Power of Wind


For my Senior Project I am investigating the power of wind. I created a wind turbine for my product. In order to create this working model, a great deal of research was required. I studied how turbines work, as well as the main factors that affect their efficiency. Then I documented my process in a short paper that also provides a loose set of instructions on how to create a working model turbine. I looked at the history of wind turbines and how they have been used in history. My own turbine resides in Montauk, where all data was collected.


Final Paper

Images (1, 2, 3)

Movie Clip

When Senior Project was so suddenly sprung upon us in May and we were told we had to have a preliminary proposal in a week, I had not yet put any thought into what I wanted my project to be. I had however, determined certain perimeters with which I could guide my brainstorming. I knew that I wanted to do something that would be hands on, and I wanted to do something that could be helpful to people. With these guidelines I decided to do something based in the science field. From this point I toyed around with the idea of studying how plants change carbon dioxide into oxygen, however I did not feel that it was a subject that could hold my interest for six months.

It was around this time that Patty Lein gave me an article about a proposed wind farm going up off the coast of Long Island. After reading it I got very interested in alternative energy and decided that was the direction I wanted to take my project in. After looking at wind, hydroelectric, and solar systems, I decided to stick with wind. I chose wind because I thought it would allow me to create a very impressive product; plus, Long Island has great wind!

Once I knew what I wanted to do I had to research designs. There are thousands of designs on the Internet. I was amazed at the concept ideas for wind turbine, such as using helium filled balloons to raise generators into wind streams high in the sky; but at the same time I was slightly intimidated with how much information there was, because of this I was not sure where to start. It was around this time I realized that if I wanted to complete this project on time I had to break it down into parts. First I set goals; I mainly wanted to construct a working wind turbine, I also decided to discover what factors/variables would affect the wind turbines performance, and lastly I wanted to write a paper that displayed all I had learned and accomplished during the course of the project.

Now that I had goals, I had to break out of the research stage with which I had cocooned myself for the past month and make a start on the building process. I discovered that all wind turbines have 5 main parts. The tower, which raises the entire turbine up and above any objects that, will disrupt the flow of the wind. The blades, they capture the wind and deliver it to the generator via a mounting system. The generator, which converts the mechanical energy from the blades into electricity, this is the main part of any wind system and I knew it would be the toughest to construct. The tail, this keeps the turbine pointed directly into the wind to allow for maximum power, and finally the electrical control, this is normally a computer chip which controls the battery charge.

I started with the generator because it is the main component of the wind turbine. After some research I found this available for purchase online, it included a motor mount, blade hub, and blade mount, all machined from aluminum. I jumped at this as it included everything I was worried about. I would not have been able to create these parts myself due to time, budget, and machinery skills restrictions. I created the blades based off a YouTube video, which explained a formula for finding the ideal blade pitch. The blades were constructed out of 4” PVC. I found almost no information on constructing a tail, so I winged it (no pun intended). I attached two pieces of ½” plywood cut into trapezoid shapes to either side of a ¾” steel pipe. However after an initial test this proved to heavy and I replaced it with a single piece of ¼” plywood attached to a ½“ steel pipe. All this was to be mounted onto a 14” piece of pipe with a cap at the top end, and a t-joint at the bottom. This allows for the tail to be screwed into the t-joint, while an 8’ pole could be inserted into the bottom of the pipe, this would allow the system to rotate freely. This completed the turbine

Now that the turbine was ready to be tested I set it up on location. The location was my grandmother’s back yard in Montauk. Her house sits on the water and this would provide a great surface for the wind to travel across, which would allow me to use a tower of a more manageable size. Testing was not easy; I was attempting to record measurements of amps and volts. Due to me never having used a multi meter before, I recorded the wrong measurements on several occasions. After two weekends of failure I found out that I had the wrong meter, so I purchased another meter and was able to record three days of data. I wish I had more data however it was a learning experience. I am very happy with how my project turned out. I am very proud that I was able to construct my own wind turbine using to instructions and figuring it out as I went along. This has been a huge success in my eyes.

Works Cited


A Dictionary of World History. steam power., 2000.

American Wind Energy Association . Frequently Asked Questions. 2008. Viewed Nov 2008. <

American Wind Energy Association. How Can I Calculate the Amount of Power Available at a Given Wind Speed? Viewed Jan 2009. <>.

Basantani, Mahesh. THE MAGLEV: The Super-powered Magnetic Wind Turbine. 26 Nov 2007. Viewed Nov 2008 .<

Bergey, Michael. "A Primer on Small Turbines." Bergey. Viewed Nov 2008. <>.

Danish Wind Industry Association. History of Wind Turbines. 6 June 2003. Viewed Dec 2008. <>.

Davis, Michael. How I built an electricity producing Wind turbine. 18 July 2008. Viewed Nov 2008. <>.

Dodge, Darrell M. An Illustrated History of Wind Turbine Development . 2006. Viewed Nov 2008. <>.

Levesque, Tylene. MICRO WIND TURBINES: Small Size, Big Impact. 28 March 2007. Viewed Nov 2008. <>.

U.S Department of Energy. How Wind Turbines Work. 30 Nov 2006. Viewed Dec 2008. <>.

Wind Turbine PVC Blade Design. Dir. GreenEngineer07. YouTube, 2008.

Wind Turbine PVC Blade Design. Dir. GreenEngineer07. Perf. GreenEngineer07. Prod. GreenEngineer07. YouTube, 2008.2525

Community Member (Details)

Gordian Raacke

Executive Director of R.E.L.I

(Renewable Energy Long Island)